Doctors who have been on strike for three weeks have voted to suspend industrial action during an extraordinary general assembly of the Uganda Medical Association (UMA) at Silver Springs Hotel in Bugolobi.
In a vote after the National Executive Committee of UMA proposed to the General Assembly to give government time to deliver on commitments, 6 doctors abstained, 76 voted to continue with the strike, while 113 doctors voted to suspend industrial action until December 16 when government is expected to deliver on its promises, including resolutions from the salary review Committee on the doctors’ salaries and allowances. No doctor voted to call off the strike.
The State Minster for Planning, David Bahati who represented government in the meeting, explained to doctors the results of the negotiations that have been going on between the government and the UMA leadership.
According to Bahati, “both Government and the doctors have understood the challenge of limited availability of emergency medical supplies which mainly emanates from supply chain shortfalls.”
He said that Shs41bn supplementary budget has been allocated to address the demands of the doctors.
“There is no way government can fail to provide things like gloves. We are going to look at the entire supply chain management, ” Bahati assured the doctors.
Doctors on the government payroll who are currently earning salary of Ugx 1.3million are expected to get Ugx 5 million in the next financial year.
Allowances for medical interns that had been reduced from Ugx 940,000 to Ugx 740,000 have been reinstated and will be paid in a timely manner.
On the disbandment of State House Monitoring Unit, Bahati told the doctors that it was an executive decision taken by the president that needs a comprehensive process. Doctors were given 10 days to make a formal complaint to be submitted to the minister of security.
Ugx 4.2bn has also been released to the Ministry of Health for allowances of senior health officers.
The Ministry of Health is required to develop a policy framework in 30 days that reflects the resolutions communicated to UMA today.
Doctors originally wanted an increase from Ugx1.3m to Ugx15m and demanded for senior consultants to be paid Ugx 48m exclusive of allowances for 3 bedroom house and domestic workers.
They also wanted the disbandment of State House Health Monitoring Unit formerly headed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Atwine Diana.
The doctors further demanded duty allowances of health professionals to be increased and the review of supply chain and management of medicines, vaccines and medical supplies.
However, the assembly on learning of government’s concessions, voted to suspend industrial action until 16th December to allow governnment to deliver on commitments, and the leadership of UMA to continue negotiating on the doctors’ behalf with government.
Dr. Obuku told journalists at the end of the general assembly, that Doctors would resume the strike if government did not keep part of their bargain.
“We would like to see Ministers and their children treated from Mulago hospital or Naguru. When the officials are satisfied with the conditions of the hospitals and they too seek treatment from the same facilities, that will also be good for the ordinary person,” Dr. Obuku added.
He promised that doctors would resume duty immediately.